Unethical drug trials caused death of 10 gas victims: Rights groups

Thursday, February 10, 2011

BHOPAL - An RTI query has revealed that at least 10 people have died at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital - meant for the treatment of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy victims - due to unethical drug trials, several rights groups claimed Thursday.

Five organisations - Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Children Against Dow Carbide and Bhopal Group for Information and Action - Thursday levelled serious charges against two senior consultants at the hospital by showing information obtained through a Right to Information (RTI) application.

They not only demanded the suspension of the consultants, but also called for filing of criminal charges against them for causing the deaths of gas victims through unethical drug trials.

According to information obtained by these organisations from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, Delhi, among the seven drug trials conducted on gas victims, only one trial was monitored by the Drug Controller General of India.

As per information, three gas victims have died due to the trial of drug Televancin on them, five have died due to Fondaparinux and two due to Tigecycline.

Documents obtained in the RTI query shows that the consultants at the hospital made over Rs.1 crore from pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Sanofi - whose drugs were tested on gas victims.

The organisations named S.K. Trivedi and H.K. Pande in the cardiology department and Subodh Varshney in the gastro surgery department as the main culprits.

Twenty-six years back, a multinational company had killed thousands and affected lakhs, still these MNC drug companies with the support of senior consultants are killing the gas victims,” Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action told IANS.

Bhopal Memorial Hospital was established in 1998 after the Union Carbide disaster in which 40 tonnes of poisonous methyl isocyanate gas seeped out of the plant on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984. The gas leak killed 3,000 people instantly and 25,000 over the years. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer till date.

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